Today started off with me seeing my first review of The Dinosaur Knights. And omigods it's a good one!
Turns out it’s about knights on dinosaurs! Who knew?
This gratifies me hugely. Not just because it’s what I believe may truly be characterized as a rave review. But because to this reviewer, at least, I imparted pretty much what I hoped to in the book.
And a key perception on her part is that Book I, The Dinosaur Lords, is really the beginning. And Book II, The Dinosaur Knights, is the rest of the story.
As to how that came about – here’s the rest of that story.
One of the reservations people seem to have about Book I is that it doesn’t really resolve a lot. Indeed, it ends on kind of a whole slew of cliffhangers. And that’s true enough.
And there’s a good reason for it. DinoLords and DinoKnights weren’t originally Books I and II at all. They were all Book I.
The original manuscript I sent off to Super Agent Kay McCauley in Spring of 2011, and what sold a trilogy launched from it to Tor that summer (July, in fact! – So clearly that’s a momentous month in DinoLords history!) was a colossal 270,000-word boat anchor. It told the first installment of what I projected as a 750,000 word epic fantasy tale.
Fast-forward to summer of 2013, when Claire Eddy came onboard as my editor. She actually flew out to our Albuquerque SF convention, Bubonicon, that year. When she called to confirm arrangements for Wanda and me to pick her up for dinner at Sadie’s on North Fourth Street the evening she arrived, she told me she’d been reading a manuscript on her flight, and found it, “the best kind of literary popcorn.” She said she hoped I didn’t take it the wrong way.
I told her that I hoped she was talking about DinoLords. She was. And that was exactly what I wanted to hear, frankly.
She got it. I was ecstatic. That has been a consistent theme of our relationship concerning the books": she gets it. She gets what I’m doing with the books, and how I want to do it, as well as my intent. Which above all is to entertain.
That quickly became apparent as we discussed the project in the hotel lounge. One thing, however, she wasn’t thrilled about: she positively goggled when she found out I was supposed to deliver three books of a quarter-million words each.
“If we do that, we’ll have to charge $40 for the hardback,” she told me.
Which made me goggle. “I wouldn’t pay that!”
I agreed to consider it. And a few weeks later she called to say she’d found an ideal point to split the book in half.
I had to agree. There was a reason I originally titled that scene Intermedio. (Which is Intermezzo in Spanish.) And indeed, it hit at almost exactly the halfway point of the novel’s length. So I split it – as well as all subsequent novels – in half.
Fortunately, both by inclination and through deep and wide learning over years in Critical Mass, my writers group – in this, particularly from the Goddess of Structure, Melinda Snodgrass – I have a tendency to throw a minor climax in at the midway point of my books. It’s, build up, build up, build up – ZOMG THAT HAPPENED!!1! - build up, build up, build up, SENSES-SHATTERING CONCLUSION!
So, yeah. The Dinosaur Lords builds and builds – and then, at the end, I break a bunch of shit.
In The Dinosaur Knights, my characters deal with the shit I dropped them in. And, yes, brings us in time to the Senses-Shattering Conclusion.
I love The Dinosaur Lords. I’m happy with it, and proud of it. I think we did make it into an actual, good novel. But if you felt a sense of incompleteness on finishing it – there is a good reason for that.
So, what does this mean for suffering mankind?
Well, to start with, the conclusion of DinoKnights does end that story – but remember, it’s only a chapter of the Big Story. As you will see at its end – as well as get an inkling where the next installment goes.
Does that mean the book I’m blazing hard on to finish up even now (not literally this moment, but literally today), The Dinosaur Princess, will also be what was projected as half of a novel, in this case the original Book II?
Why, yes. Yes it does.
And does this mean, I pretend to hear you ask, that – wait, there’s more?
Yup! There’s a full trilogy remaining of the whole cycle. It’s still plotted at 750K.
Now, one thing I think I can promise you about Book III: yeah, it’s not a spoiler to say that one or several cliffs will be hung off of at its end. However, because I was able to restructure it from the ground up, and rewrite/write it accordingly (I did a big chunk in 2012), it will have a more dramatic, and dramatically satisfying conclusion, than The Dinosaur Lords.
So that’s something to look forward to.
I hope you do.
I hope you like the books. I hope you love the books. And if you do – I ask you, please spread the word.
Because Books II and III need to sell well enough that Tor will feel moved to pick up – the rest of the story!
And as always – thanks for reading!